Practice Marketing

Google’s Latest Update and How It Impacts Dental Practices

As an online marketing provider for dentists, helping dental practices and their patients stay safe and secure online is one of our top priorities.

Each year Google makes countless updates to continually improve the searcher’s experience – for example, when people use search on a mobile device, the results show mobile-friendly sites over ones that are not – because Google knows a mobile-friendly website will provide a better search experience.

A similar line of thought is weaved into their latest update; that any non-HTTPS websites will show a warning to visitors immediately upon entering the website.

But before we get into the details, let’s go over the basics.

The Difference Between HTTP and HTTPS Websites

HTTP (hypertext transfer protocol) is the protocol over which data is exchanged between your browser and the website to which it’s connected. HTTPS is the secure version of HTTP. When a website has HTTPS, all communications between browser and website are encrypted, making it much harder for third parties to interpret, alter, or delete information.

The New Google Update

It used to be that Google Chrome previously only marked HTTP pages as not secure if the pages had forms that asked for highly sensitive information like a password or credit card. Most recently, however, Chrome (version 62) now shows a not secure warning on all pages that have any type of data entry fields (even forms that simply ask for name and email), and all HTTP pages visited in Incognito (private) mode.

And, currently, when you’re in a Chrome browser, in the URL bar, you’ll either see the words “secure” in green or “not secure” in red to the left of the URL.

However, in the coming months, as HTTPS increasingly becomes the default for websites everywhere, Google will be removing the green “secure” text next to the URL and instead only call attention to websites when they are not secure.

Why the Update?

Google is in favor of better user experiences, which is why they are trying to make the Internet a more secure place. They have tried to enforce a more encrypted web for years – but this update is one of their most forceful moves yet.

Here’s a snippet from the Google Security Blog on the update:  

For the past several years, we’ve moved toward a more secure web by strongly advocating that sites adopt HTTPS encryption. And within the last year, we’ve also helped users understand that HTTP sites are not secure by gradually marking a larger subset of HTTP pages as “not secure”. Beginning in July 2018 with the release of Chrome 68, Chrome will mark all HTTP sites as “not secure”.

What This Means for Dental Practices

No one likes to see a warning sign that a website isn’t secure. Even if the information that you are requesting on your site is benign (like name and email), a glaring security warning is enough to cause most visitors to close your page and move on to a secure site.

To ensure you don’t miss out on getting new patient inquiries or requests to your office, an SSL certificate (which makes your site HTTPS) is a recommended addition to your online security.

When you couple an HTTPS website with secure patient email and a HIPAA-compliant patient portal, you show patients that the safety of their data is a priority for your practice. Taking this extra step not only protects patients, it makes them feel good about your practice, which will help to create a foundation of loyal patients for years to come.

To learn more about keeping patient data safe and secure online in a HIPAA-compliant manner, call ProSites at (888) 932-3644 to talk with an Internet Marketing Advisor.

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